Pakistan’s Army Rules Out Military Coup

Posted December 23rd, 2011 at 6:45 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's army chief is denying reports the military is looking to oust the civilian government from power amid a scandal over a memo.

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said Friday speculations of any military takeover are “misleading” and being used to divert attention from “real issues.” Kayani said the army will continue to support the democratic process in the country.

The statement came one day after Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said “conspirators” are attempting to undermine his government as it faces mounting criticism over a secret a memo appealing for U.S. help to prevent a feared military coup.

Pakistan's Supreme Court is deliberating whether to order an investigation into the memo. It was allegedly sent in May by a member of President Asif Ali Zardari's office, asking for U.S. military assistance to thwart a possible coup by the country's powerful military and intelligence services following the covert U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on Friday also moved to allay fears about a possible coup, saying there is “no question of a military takeover.”

The existence of the memo came to light in October, when Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote a column in the Financial Times newspaper accusing Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., Hussain Haqqani, of writing the memo and asking for it to be delivered to Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military official at the time. Haqqani was subsequently forced to resign.

Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari have faced increasing pressure to resign over the memo scandal.

Mr. Gilani has insisted the military must operate under the control of the civilian government, saying Thursday there cannot be “a state within the state” and that all the country's institutions are “answerable to this parliament.”